First-timer: Heath Tucker has impressive day in Cimarron

4/5/2014

By BRETT MARSHALL

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

CIMARRON — After nearly a month of miserable preseason training weather, high school track and field athletes were granted at least a 24-hour reprieve on Friday.

And nobody enjoyed it more than some of the top returning area athletes at the Cimarron Invitational.

With the temperature hovering around 60 degrees and nary a breath of wind, the best came from Holcomb's Heath Tucker, Cimarron's Morgan Ediger, South Gray's Jake Peters and Wichita County's Josh Mehl.

Tucker, the defending state champion in the Class 3A 300-meter hurdles, clocked 39.70 seconds in his season-opening specialty, and then also tacked on wins in the 100-meter dash (11.27) and the long jump (20 feet, 10 inches).

The biggest surprise came in the 110-meter high hurdles where Tucker hit nearly every hurdle, ended up with a bleeding left leg and lost the race to Devin Ramsey of Ellinwood, 15.51 to 15.54.

Ediger, also a defending 3A state champion in the 300 hurdles, kicked her season off with a strong 48.6 to capture first, and then added an individual gold in the pole vault at 7-00.

Peters, one of the top returning throw specialists in Class 2A, was impressive, winning the discus with a toss of 164-11 and the shot put with a heave of 50-08.

Mehl, a senior at Wichita County, knocked six seconds off his season-opening time of a year ago in winning the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:38.45.

In the team races, Ellinwood and Meade finished 1-2 in the girls division with a photo finish of 123 to 122 points. Cimarron's girls were third with 94 points. In the boys division, Holcomb's boys came through with an impressive meet, winning with 109 points, while Ellinwood was second with 95 points. Wichita County and Cimarron tied for third with 81 points each.

Tucker said he had something to prove to himself in the later events after struggling in the 110s.

"I wasn't very happy with the 110s because I hit every hurdle," Tucker said at the end of the meet. "My form was ugly, but I haven't even run through the race in practice, so I've got lots to work on."

As with most competiors, Tucker answered the bell in his 100-meter dash and then the 300 hurdles, perhaps his best, but also the toughest of his races.

"The 300 is just excruciating, that's all there is about it," Tucker said. "But I love the weather today. I don't like it too hot. The thing about the 110s, I was ahead about halfway through, but hitting every hurdle just took away my momentum."

His biggest smile came in discussing the long jump, especially considering he had never competed in the event.

"I hadn't even jumped once in practice," Tucker confessed. "My mom told me earlier in the week to just run fast and jump high. That's what I tried to do."

Tucker got his winning jump on his first try, and it got him excited for the upcoming season.

"I was just shooting for 19-00 and when I heard my distance, I just kinda laughed," Tucker said. "I might have to do that event every meet. I watched a video on You Tube and that helped, too. It felt weird not to jump over a hurdle or hand off a baton."

Ediger was happy with her debut effort in the 300 hurdles.

"It felt really smooth, and usually I'm struggling at the end this early," Ediger said. "My time will come down as I get in better condition. I obviously wanted to win it, but I wanted to get a gauge on where I'm at. It's about a second faster than last year."

South Gray's Peters was perhaps as impressive as any performer, exploding for his 164-11 discus and his 50-08 shot put marks.

"I had pretty good height on it," Peters said of his third throw in the shot put. "I've been throwing 60 in practice, and I was kind of nervous for the first meet. Getting started off like this gives me confidence. I'm a lot stronger and my technique has gotten better. We've changed a lot of little things, and it's just all starting to come together."

Peters, who had personal bests of 48-08 and 158-6 a year ago, said he really didn't have a favorite between the two.

"I think they help each other, so I try to work just as hard in one as the other," Peters said. "I was really hoping to get over the 50-foot mark, and wanted over 160 in the discus, so it's nice to get those today."

Mehl also was happy with his 4:38.45 clocking in the 1,600, a mark nearly six seconds faster than his 2013 season-opening time. He overtook Ellinwood's Pedro Montoya on the final lap, and finished nearly four seconds of his second-place rival.

"Anytime you can finish ahead of somebody like Pedro, you know you've done well," Mehl said. "He's a tough guy to run against. My grandpa once told me that when you pass somebody, you want to make sure they know it. So I just tried to be really strong and not let up once I got by him."

Mehl had topped The Telegram's Honor Roll in 2013 with a time of 4:28.50.

Results in Scoreboard, Page D2.

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